I have visited the majority of the civil rights museums in the southeastern states. The Center for Civil Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga. and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN are two of my favorite. This past spring, in Montgomery, Al., a space opened that is the first of it’s kind in this country. “The National Memorial For Peace and Justice is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to the human loss suffered during the era of racial terror lynchings, which swept across the south and beyond in the decades following the abolition of slavery.”
The memorial is a collection of work done by the Equal Justice Initiative, identifying more than 4,000 African American men, women, and children who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. This space was haunting. In the same breath, this space made me feel like another piece of me had been reconciled.
Until now, lynching had been painted in songs, danced about in novels. The impact of seeing 800 steel monuments inscribed with crimes of lynching, some detailing the reason why, presented a different sentiment. While this is a space that uses literature, sculpture, art and design to tell its’ story, there was no rhythm or pace to it. There were no perfectly fitted color patterns or designs, it just happened. There was no spell check, no correction of verb/noun agreement, the art at this memorial lends escape to no one. This space brings name to the thousands of men, women and children who were hideously and violently murdered for mere social transgressions and some from absolute innocence.
There is tons of history in Montgomery, Al to see. So planning a trip to this memorial is not the only thing you will be making time for. This is a must for anyone seeking reconciliation against violent crimes committed against African Americans in this country. This is a must see for anyone seeking retribution for human justice.
Here are some pictures I took:
“True peace is not just the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.